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  • Posted by: Elan Cole on Wednesday, January 22 2014 09:33 AM | Comments (0)
    Bart Laube

    This is the first in a series of four posts in which we look at the foundations of great work: Design Craft, Creative Ideas, Creative Leadership, and Brand-led Innovation, through the lens of our Consumer Branding practice.

    In this first installment of a two-part interview, Elan Cole, Global Executive Creative Director, Consumer Brands for Interbrand talks design process, craft and knowledge with Bart Laube, Senior Designer, Interbrand Cincinnati. Bart is responsible for some of the world’s most recognizable identities (Bounty and Charmin, to name a couple), which he develops by hand, on paper.

    Cole: Who, or what, inspired you to pick up the pencil and draw?

    Laube: I remember being young and not being able to sit still long enough. To be in a classroom listening to my teachers for hours at a time was torture. The only time I enjoyed school was when I would draw. I would just put my pen on a piece of paper and scribble. Eventually the scribbling started to look like something…

    Charmin sketches

    Cole: Who have your influences and heroes been along the way? Who do you admire today?

    Laube: Winsor McCay was particularly inspirational. He could draw elaborate scenes with hundreds of snowmen having a snowball fight in an architecturally accurate snow palace in ink without a sketch. Natural ability. He invented many modern animation techniques in 1914 and Disney considers him the father of animation. I aspire to do as well as he did.

    Charles Schulz also inspires me. He taught me that proportion and simple lines could touch millions of people. If you look at Charlie Brown’s face, it is very simple – two dots, two lines and a scribble. He created a world with those lines that lasted past his death.

    Today I admire Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes and Art Spiegelman. They are great visual storytellers responsible for the creation of the graphic novel. Mcbess is interesting stylistically. I also am a big fan of Max Fliescher who influenced Mcbess. I am always interested in distinctive style and less interested in derivative works.

    Charmin Designs

    Cole: What is a design trends you find particularly inspiring today?

    Laube: Hand drawn treatments are being used everywhere these days. The Levis “Go Forth” Ad campaign has a great inspirational feel to it. The Red Bull TV commercials use hand drawn cartoons to communicate humor.

    Charmin Logo

    Cole: What's the difference between working on paper and working with pixels? How (and when) do you transition between the two?

    Laube: Working on paper is simple and less about process and more about having a thought. Computers though are great at efficient task management. I usually think on paper and execute color on computers. The color can be changed and tweaked easily on a computer. They can print and make copies, but computers will never have a good idea.

    Drawing well is reaching that Alpha Brain Wave state or relaxed consciousness. That is why great art speaks without words. The hands are connected to the brain.

    The key is to not take every line seriously. Let it flow out. Just start drawing. Scribble in rough lines or shapes. Just relax and watch what you are doing. Don't over think it. Trust yourself.

    Skittles Design

    Stay tuned for more from Elan Cole and Bart Laube’s design craft conversation and share your thoughts on design craft with us on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.  

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  • Posted by: Jennifer Nunez de Villavicencio on Wednesday, July 6 2011 09:49 AM | Comments (0)

    Interbrand New York’s June design tour featured a visit to the second section of the High Line park and a viewing of the artist duo FriendsWithYou’s AOL-sponsored Rainbow City exhibit.

    I’m a big fan of FriendsWithYou’s fun, bright, and happy work, which fulfills its mission to spread “Magic, Luck, and Friendship.” The striped box shaped pop-up, which is located at The Lot, the High Line’s temporary plaza, succeeds in making viewers feel like they want to buy the “candy” merchandise inside. Overall, the Interbrand New York office loved every visual minute of it – as has virtually everyone who has come in contact with it.

    The response to Rainbow City, however, made me consider an intriguing point: Why is it that a corporate sponsored exhibit by FriendsWithYou sits well with the viewer and the majority of the world, whereas corporate sponsored works by artist giants like Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, and Damien Hirst tend to make us wince?

    The only thing that might be the differentiator between FriendsWithYou and these artists are how transparent, forthright and clear they are about their brands (yes, these artists are brands). FWY does not hesitate to bill itself as an experiential art, creative, IP development, branding, and merchandising agency established by artists Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III. Its website even states that FWY trademarked their mission to “to spread the idea of Magic, Luck, and Friendship™ around the world.” Meanwhile, a look at Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, and Damien Hirst’s websites reveal a more traditional approach, in which all three present themselves more as visual artists, with a list of exhibits, work, and schooling. Their websites all avoid any overt link out to where viewers can purchase merchandise – though in the case of Hirst, a well concealed “Other Criteria” link does take the viewer to a range of Hirst merchandise for sale, ranging from beach towels by Jasper John to skateboard decks designed by Hirst. Overall, however, they do a good job of maintaining an artist-friendly, high-brow, above-commerce, image to the world, despite all of their dabbles in crass commercialism.

    And the let’s not also forget about brand Jeffrey Deitch, which throws another loop into the mix. As an art dealer, Deitch’s influence has boosted many of the world’s top, money-making artists. And now, in his role running MOCA, each museum decision Deitch makes will likely positively impact the artist’s he represented and his own personal art collection as well, in what is undoubtedly one chaotic and controversial convolution of culture, commerce, and brand.

    So, what is the lesson here? Perhaps this: in today’s world, all artists are brands. While commerce and culture have always been bed-fellows (think how Michelangelo was commissioned to create statues for Italy’s richest families), they are now truly inseparable. So, why not take a cue from FriendsWithYou and be more transparent about it? The conversation about art is changing — to avoid an angry public, it might just make sense for these artists to fully embrace who they are and what they really do.

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  • Posted by: Mike Preston on Monday, July 12 2010 09:46 AM | Comments (0)

    I recently watched “Work of Art: The Next Great Artist” on the esteemed Bravo network and I’m not quite sure how I felt about it.

    The show is essentially “Project Runway” but open to all arts as opposed to fashion design. It runs a heap of talents from different artistic backgrounds (from photography to performance art) through different challenges, one per episode. Each are given about one day to concept, purchase supplies and execute. The work is then displayed in a psuedo gallery in the finale. After each challenge, an artist is eliminated by a panel of artsy judges based on how successful their work was (or wasn’t). Its the standard Bravo formula. At the end of the season, the last artist standing receives a bag of cash and their own exhibition at the Brooklyn Art Museum (not bad, actually).

    Initially I thought the show was somewhat degrading to the art world. Isn’t the point of art to be a self expression or a personal reaction to something or anything? Isn’t it not supposed to be about a competition? Isn’t it not something that can be rushed under a deadline (especially if the deadline is just one day)? And finally, isn’t art supposed to be something that isn’t judged as right or wrong, but whether or not the work has something to say or connects with people in some way? It all seemed somewhat superficial and watered down; fake and contrived.

    All of that aside, I watched – and I was thoroughly entertained.

    Sure, maybe the show isn’t an accurate representation anything close to “real” art or discovering a “real” artist, and yes, the show might be one giant Audi commercial. But there is definitely something compelling about watching talented (or somewhat talented) people try to solve problems creatively. Its interesting to think about the brief they are given and what you might do in that situation, and then see where the 12 other artists take it. Honestly, I would probably watch it if it was school children instead of artists (not a bad idea). Obviously, I superficially judged their artwork from my couch. I hated some of the work and announced to the television how much better I could do it. But in the end, what do I know? Some of the work they create is actually pretty interesting, and to be able to create something under that kind of pressure must be an accomplishment on it’s own.

    I’ll probably keep watching. There isn’t much else on TV on Wednesday night anyway.

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  • Posted by: Mike Preston on Friday, April 23 2010 09:25 AM | Comments (0)

    Whether it is a high-end album cover or grungy rock poster, art and design has always been closely married to music. From vinyl to A-track to cassette to CDs, it has been a relationship that has changed over time. But if there’s one consistency, it is that this relationship has always lived primarily in the world of print.
    The print world has allowed both the music and art to flourish. But over the past decade, many have questioned its longevity. Would music digitalization and the way in which it is sold kill the need to go to a record store, and album art along with it?

    Recently I purchased the self-titled debut album from Broken Bells, an eclectic collaboration between Danger Mouse and The Shins’ James Mercer. The result of this collaboration is a unique and tranquil sound that is hard to turn off.  And just as engaging as the music itself is the distinct visual world artist/designer Jacob Escobedo has created for the music to live in. This world flourishes in both print and digital in innovative ways that give hope to a prolonged life of art in the music industry.

    Rather than just a typical album cover and poster that exist in music’s past, Escobedo  (who also happens to be the Creative Director for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim) and the band have created a singular, visual style that is executed across series of engaging tactile print pieces. From a series of posters to a deluxe box set full of various print pieces, each piece is a different work of art. While all of the print work is fascinating enough, the work gets really interesting when it moves to the digital world.

    If you purchase the album on iTunes, you receive an application that contains several contents including a secret song, credits and band photos. You also receive a visualizer. Much like the standard iTunes visualizer, the music is interpreted by various visuals on screen—except, in this case, the visuals are Escobedo’s artwork. The artwork moves to the music and interacts with itself in ways impossible in print. It enhances the listening experience and even allows the print work to be looked at in a new light.

    As the innovative Broken Bells album demonstrates, the marriage between art and music not only lives on, but also allows listeners to experience each in ways we never have before. The relationship is not gone—it’s thriving. 

    All advancements lead to opportunities. Artists and designers are now able to think about their work in ways they never have before. No longer static, no longer grounded on a canvas or piece of paper—the possibilities are endless.

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